But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:33) NIV
Whose righteousness are you wearing today? In what form or fashion did this righteousness come to be? Is it constructed with the raise you just earned, the compliment you got from your friend, how great of a mom or volunteer you are, or how much money is in your portfolio?
How often do we wake up and feel like we have to hammer out our own breastplate of righteousness because yesterday’s wins never seem to stick around long enough to count for another day? Not to mention the times when a “win” for our own self-righteousness is closely followed by a “loss” in the form of a criticism, bad hair day, or failings that came out of our own missteps. These losses tend to tumble us down a few notches and requires more wins to keep us afloat.
I played the earnings game for a good chunk of my life. How others thought of me was tightly knitted to how I thought of myself. If they liked me and I was considered good in their eyes, then I was good. If they were disappointed in me and I was “bad,” then I was bad. I tried so hard to earn my worldview of myself through the lens of other people and in turn, became susceptible to their whims and own insecurities. Based on the good or bad moods of other people, I was forced to ride the tides of their emotions. I latched on to their beliefs, begging for them to see me. The definition of who I was ended differently each day and started over each morning. I had to roll the boulder up the hill again as soon as I opened my eyes.
I always envied people who didn’t have to play this righteousness game. They knew exactly who they were and what anyone said, did, or thought meant very little to them. They WERE the boulder, and it stood exactly where they planted it. How did they do that? It turns out they knew something that I had yet to learn.
When I found Christ and wore His righteousness for the first time, it was freeing in more ways than I could ever count. Discovering it was His righteousness that I had to wear bowled me over with relief! It was the first time that I became a boulder myself.
My whole life I had piecemealed my own righteousness from bits of thumbs-up I had earned at work, tagged onto random comments from strangers, taped with compliments from my friends, and sewn together with a kind word from a neighbor. I heaved this jumbled mess over my head and stuck my arms through the makeshift holes and tried to wear my breastplate wherever I went. It was a disaster. Pieces fell off and I walked around awkwardly and uncomfortably in my own skin. I looked like a kid who made his Halloween costume out of a large box covered in tinfoil. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I could never make my righteousness fit.
When I first put on Jesus’ righteousness, it slipped on like a silk dress that form fitted to my soul. It is light weight with the strength of a thousand Kevlar vests that will extinguish anything that the enemy will throw. It protects our purified hearts through Jesus’ sacrifice and allows our hearts to beat with His because our enemy can no longer bend our ear. We are fully and completely listening to the voice of our Savior, and His truths wash us with living water.
Jesus said that our earnings are like rags. We think all of our accomplishments, awards, trophies, volunteer hours, accolades, and church attendances will add up in the end but truthfully, we are just piling up our rags one on top of the other in the hopes that they will count for something. Is this what you want to offer up to your King and hang your hopes on for salvation? I sure don’t. Once I thought this was enough. Now I know, He is enough.
The righteousness of Jesus Christ never falters, breaks down, needs to be renewed, fails when tested, or fits like a costume. It will never pull you down or hold you back. Whichever righteousness we choose to put on when we wake up in the morning will determine our whole outlook for the day. It is not something He will ever force us to wear. It’s a choice. My tinfoil box is in the recycle bin with the rest of my “awards.” Whose righteousness will you choose to wear today? Yours or His?